Hepburn 9.10 (64) d Daylesford 5.5 (35)
By John McGregor
A HALF-TIME rev-up spurred Hepburn to a 29-win over arch-rival Daylesford in the CHFL Spa Country Derby on Sunday.
The Bulldogs read the wet and muddy conditions better in the first half and led the Burras at the big break.
A 16-point lead was largely a result of goals from Zac Tisdale, Daniel Muscat and a pair from Joel Cummings.
Hepburn seemed bogged down and choked for scoring opportunities – managing just the one major, kicked by
Mitch McKay four minutes into the first term.
The message to Burras players was received loud and clear.
Within 30 seconds of the bounce for the third quarter, Ken Cummings booted a goal and Hepburn was up and running.
Jimmy Rodgers followed quickly with another major and Jackson Hogan kicked a goal minutes later, and the Burras had suddenly snatched the lead back.
By the end of the third term Hepburn had blitzed its way to a 22-point lead with two majors each the Rodgers, Cummings and Hogan and a single to Andy McKay.
The McKay brothers – Andy, Mitch and Brad – did what they do best, lighting the fuse and rallying the troops into action.
Daylesford’s poise from the first half was snuffed out dramatically and Tisdale’s single major for the second half was the only resistance.
Hepburn’s heroes were many, but Billy Johns, Daniel Rees, Hayden Rodgers and Joe Malone were among those to stand out.
Daylesford’s best included Joel Cowan, Joel Cummings, Emlyn Nettleton and Seb Eyles.
Hepburn coach Siga Asa Leausa described the second half turnaround as “players finally getting the message”.
“The message got delivered pretty hard.
“They really needed to put in that effort,” he said.
“We identified at halftime that in these conditions it really came down to how much you needed to want that ball.
“It’s the players who want to get that ball who make the difference.”
Daylesford coach Zac Tisdale said the swing in momentum came down to about 10 minutes.
“The first half was pretty positive.
“Our pressure was good, but they jumped us in that third quarter and we were too slow to react,” he said.
Asa Leausa was a late withdrawal because of injury for Hepburn, which also lost Joe Clark during the day.
Dunnstown 8.11 (59) d Gordon 7.13 (55)
By Tim O'Connor
Dunnstown caused a boilover by beating Gordon on its own territory on Saturday afternoon.
The Towners trailed at every change, but booted four goals to two in the last quarter to seal an important win.
Dunnstown lost its opening eight matches last season, before storming home with wins in its next eight to just miss finals by percentage.
Given it’s the same fixture in 2018, this success against the Eagles is vitally important in the side’s hopes for a top eight berth.
Dunnstown coach Justin Abrams said injuries to Aaron Brennan (hamstring) and Kyle Andrews (calf) early in the game left the side undermanned for the second half.
“Our second half contested footy was very good. We won inside 50m entries and clearances. We showed great resilience to hang in and win a tough game,” Abrams said.
Matt Bulluss kicked three goals for the winners, with tall Rylan Rattley and onballer Sam Jenkins named the side’s best.
For Gordon, the win-loss ledger now sits at 1-1.
Matt Raworth was rated the standout player for the Eagles, which have a difficult trip to Beaufort to contend with next weekend.
For Dunnstown, a home clash against Buninyong awaits in round three.
Creswick 13.14 (92) d Clunes 6.5 (41)
By Tim O'Connor
Creswick continued its promising start to the campaign by easily accounting for Clunes on Saturday.
The Wickers backed up their round one win over Carngham-Linton with a commanding 51-point victory at the Magpies’ home ground.
Creswick coach Ryan Knowles booted five goals against the Saints, but didn’t take the field on Saturday. Youngster Liam Blake stood up in his absence, kicking the same bag on the weekend.
“We isolated him down there and for an 18-year-old he was very good,” Knowles said.
Blake was a star for the Wickers, while Darrian Mann continued his strong start to the campaign through the engine room. Recruits Ricky Cummins and Pat Taranto also had good games.
For Clunes, Wrigley brothers Matt and Lachlan were named in the best.
Learmonth 18.13 (121) d Rokewood-Corindhap 8.7 (55)
By Tim O'Connor
A blistering nine-goal second quarter helped Learmonth sink Rokewood-Corindhap to open its account for season 2018.
The Lakies made the most of the wind advantage to open up a 60-point lead at the main break.
Stand-in coach Brenton Powell led the way for his side, while forward Anthony Zelencich kicked five goals in the 66-point win. Classy onballer Sam Chapman booted two majors and was a standout for the Grasshoppers.
Newlyn 8.12 (60) d Waubra 5.5 (35)
By Tim O'Connor
Brad Sewell made a winning return to life as a Newlyn footballer on Saturday.
The 34-year-old didn’t turn back the clock with his on-field performance, but played a part in the Cats’ memorable 25-point victory over Waubra.
A big crowd turned out to witness Sewell play alongside brothers Adam and Myles for the first time and crammed into the clubrooms to belt out the song after the 8.12 (60) to 5.5 (35) triumph.
“It was great. It’s the first chance we’ve had (to play together) and to do it back here at our home club, and in front of so many friends and family, is just fantastic,” Sewell said after the match.
While Brad was serviceable in roles mostly in attack, Adam and Myles had strong games on Saturday.
But it was their mate and former Greater Western Sydney Giants player Steve Clifton that proved a match-winner for the home side.
In the wet and windy conditions, Clifton collected a stack of possession and kicked three important majors to seal the result in the final term.
While Saturday’s victory was rather comfortable in the end, it certainly didn’t look as though it would be the case early in the contest.
Waubra started the game with real purpose and managed to hold the hosts goalless until late in the second quarter.
The third term was a decisive one as the Cats outscored the visitors, which had the aid of a useful breeze.
The Roos trailed by as little as three points during the last quarter, but Clifton’s three goals and a sealer from Myles Sewell was enough to get the home team over the line.
Ruckman Jarrod Fryar also had a great game for Newlyn, while the Waubra defence – led by Ben Wilson, Darcy Jenkins and James Petrie – was strong for much of the battle.
Roos coach Matt James admitted the third term was a turning point in the clash.
“In the third quarter when the game was on the line, we just didn’t get the footy,” James told The Courier.
“Newlyn has obviously got a really good midfield and we probably didn’t stand up to it enough.”
Buninyong 16.13 (109) d Ballan 6.9 (45)
By David Bilbrough
Buninyong moved past the opening round loss to Springbank with a dominant second half against Ballan in trying conditions on Saturday.
The Bombers piled on nine goals to one after half time to run out 64-point winners.
Buninyong coach Jarrod Morgan was pleased with the way his troops stuck to the task.
“It was going to be a pretty scrappy game and the weather was terrible so the message at half time was to not get frustrated,” Morgan said.
“We rotated pretty high in the first half so we knew we had pretty fresh legs. We tried to stabilise the team in the second half and have the belief that we would run out the game and have faith that what we were doing would get the end result.”
Isaac Baker's four goals in the wild weather proved vital, while Sam Russell defied the slippery conditions with some precision entries into the forward 50m arc.
Some poor discipline from the Ballan defence opened the door to a seven-goal third term from the hosts.
Jake Dunne was taken to the goal line inside the first minute after a 50m penalty, which was followed by two more majors from free kicks. One was from Sam Cooper and the other from Morgan, which put the hosts in front by an ominous 32 points mid-way through the third term.
With the help of a hefty breeze, the Bombers’ Harli Givvens launched one of the longest goals in club, if not league, history when he rolled one through from just behind the centre circle – a rough distance of about 80m.
For Ballan coach Jason McNamara it was a mixed bag.
“I thought we matched their intensity in the first half and our work rate was there, but then, with the inexperienced group, we were a little bit undisciplined early in the second half. They got a couple of goals and we just didn't want to work as hard,” he said.
“Some of their class players stood up a bit and they were well drilled and well organised.”
Brodie Richie worked hard all day for the Blues, booting two goals. Patrick Graham and Michael Donaldson refused to throw in the towel, while the relentless Darren Tanti was best afield for the visitors.
Beaufort 8.5 (53) d Bungaree 3.5 (23)
By John McGregor
Beaufort dug deep against Bungaree – and the elements – on Saturday to take away a five-goal win.
The Demons dominated the first quarter with hard tackling and constant attacking football.
The football rarely left the Demons’ half of the ground, but poor kicking blunted the impact on the scoreboard with just four behinds.
Luckily for Beaufort the rare intrusions into attack resulted in a major and a behind.
The second term swung to the visitors, but scoring was still elusive and the Crows had a narrow five-point lead at half time.
The start of the last half was physical with no holds barred.
An incident a few minutes in saw a defiant Crows forward Jack Duke sent to the sidelines to cool off. Duke returned before the end of the term.
Two Beaufort goals were enough to add some scoreboard pressure which Bungaree failed to answer.
The Demons were scoreless in the third quarter and three goals adrift of the Crows going into the last.
A four-goal final term saw Beaufort home.
Tim Haase and Tom Le Lievre booted two goals each for the Crows and Alex Petrie, Sam Leckie, Duke and Tom Stapleton had singles.
New Crows recruit Daniel Venditti was a late addition to the playing list and impressed many.
The only goal-kicker for Bungaree was Cameron Jackson, who booted the team’s three.
Champion ruckman David Benson had an almighty battle with the Crows’ Josh McDermott.
A telling blow to the Demons’ firepower was Luke Mirtschin, who was helped from the ground after a head-high knock.
Mirtschin, who kicked a bag of eight majors in the first round, was assessed for concussion.
Beaufort coach Rohan Brown said because of the atrocious conditions the result was always going to come down to the wire.
“We tried to break free. We used the attacking side of the ground in the second and third quarters and we got a little more space. That was pleasing,” he said.
“It would have been a good game of footy to watch as a spectator…the pressure and contested footy.”
Demons coach Heath Pyke said Beaufort out-worked and out-ran Bungaree.
“They showed us what a good side does,” Pyke, who was sidelined with injury, said.
Next weekend, the Crows are at home for a big clash against Gordon, while Bungaree travels to take on reigning Central Highlands Football League premiers Hepburn.
Springbank 11.18 (84) d Carngham-Linton 3.5 (23)
By Tim O'Connor
Springbank remains unbeaten under new coach Troy Beamond after a successful trip to Linton.
The GJ Gardner Tigers cruised to a 61-point win over Carngham-Linton, which managed just three goals on Saturday afternoon.
Given that, it’s no surprise Springbank defenders Shannon and Flynn Donegan, Marty Anderson and Sam Cue were among the standout players.
Key figures Paul O’Shea (illness) and Chris Graham (unavailable) were among those missing for the undermanned Tigers. For Carngham-Linton, onballer Ross Waters was impressive and Tom Sarah received praise for his job on Michael Searl.